One November day when Aniyah was in preschool and had just turned three years old, her teacher passed around leaves. “What are you thankful for?” asked the teacher, ready to inscribe Aniyah’s answer on the leaf. “Good water,” said Aniyah. Surprised by the answer, her teacher asked Aniyah to explain. “I’m thankful for good, clean water,” said Aniyah. “Did you know that there are kids who don’t have clean water? That’s not okay!”
Several months earlier, Aniyah had heard a story about people around the world suffering for lack of clean water. Clearly, the story had made an impression.
When Aniyah first heard that some kids don’t have good drinking water, this was hard for her to imagine, but it was not hard for her to imagine a way to help. Over the course of the next month Aniyah just kept having question after question about clean water. There were nights that we YouTube how wells are built and she would watch a ten minute video of a stimulated graphic of how machinery drills holes and makes wells. She was amazed at where the water came from, down layers upon layers of earth, where the rock sediments lay. Then a few evenings later she would want to figure out how people cranked out clean water, and other new technologies that help give better water.
Here is a video that we both put on repeat on a few occasions.
This video gave ample conversations on how one injustice effects everyone.
Clean water will give jobs and sustainability to those without. Clean water means women will spend less hours gathering unclean water and more time working and providing for their families. It means children will get sick less often, be in school more often and their families spend less in medical treatments. It means girls lives become safer from predators during evening and night gatherings of water.
It means one of our very basic needs will be possible for others.
I also showed her how other people have raised money to put towards these wells. She then for weeks begged me for quarters and dimes and nickels and saved up all of her coins in her big purple Crayola Crayon piggy bank. It even got to the point that I would hide extra coins in the couch cushions and I would drop them outside of the staircase at our house and every single time she picked her piggy bank up it wasn’t can I go buy a treat, it was like, ‘look mom, more money to put towards the well.’
One night just laying in bed, she asked how she could get more money and asked how my husband and I make money. So I explained to her how adults work and we have jobs that create an income. She kept asking how could she work to make money. Well, I told her three year olds don’t work- and she cried. She sobbed for so long, it broke my heart.
That’s I knew that we needed to create an avenue for her to respond to this tug in her heart.
My hope as a mother is that I can always facilitate a means for her hearts desires. I want her to learn to respond. To respond to this need and this desire that she has in her heart. So often the strings of our hearts are tugged at, yet we’ve learned to just walk away from it. If we could just take a moment and sit down and really allow those strings to be tugged at, wrestled with and felt. I believe that’s when we could see there is a way for us to participate in a bigger story.
And so one night when we were painting it dawned on me she could sell these paintings. After asking her if she wanted to sell the paintings we decided to start investing in really good supplies and make this well, a reality.
She decided to make paintings and sell them to raise money. We told her about Charity: Water, an organization that funds clean water projects, and explained to her how a well can be drilled to provide clean water for many people. For nearly a year, Aniyah has been busy painting, and, with the sale of her paintings, her hope is to fund a well.
I believe that when you give a child the right resources, there’s no measure to what they can create and do. What they can create is amazing and it’s beautiful. And so we painted. What started as a fun project, she ended so committed and engaged with the process. Now, I know she’s three, but she could sit for four hours painting away.
She would come home from preschool and immediately want to get to work.
So after eight months of painting we accumulated about 180 paintings and we decided for the month of September for her fourth birthday we would launch this campaign to raise $4000 for her fourth birthday and we are halfway there.
If you would like to help Aniyah build a well—and if you would like to take one of her paintings home with you—go to:
After making a donation to Aniyah’s campaign, stop by Scout & Co. on North Ave in Burlington or Doughnut Dilemma on Main Street in Burlington and show your barista your receipt. Choose which painting you would like and take it home with you that day. On September 13th, Aniyah turned four years old, and she couldn’t think of a better way for you to say, “Happy Birthday.”
When you donate to Charity: Water, you can rest assured that 100% of your gift will directly support the building of a water project—on the ground. None of it will go toward administrative costs, which are covered by separate private fundraising efforts.